Renewable energy development and implemented energy efficiency measures are responsible for 70% of the the drop in US carbon dioxide emissions seen since 2007 (when a slow decline began), according to a new report from Greenpeace.
The findings stand in contrast to some of the arguments put out there by detractors of renewable energy — some of who have argued that the drop in carbon emissions was the result of the natural gas tracking boom. The numbers say otherwise, of course.
The numbers come from Greenpeace energy analyst Lauri Myllyvirta who published them recently on the Greenpeace Energydesk website.
Carbon emissions in the US fell by a total of 16% between the years of 2007 and 2013, which was accompanied a 21% drop in US coal consumption during that same period. Natural gas generation (via the fracking boom) rose significantly during this time as well, up 23%. The coincident there was very happily harped upon by proponents of the fracking boom, but as stated before, the drop had more to do with renewables and energy efficiency (at least according to the new report).
“The supposed climate benefits of fracking have been a big selling point for the shale lobby, but this myth has now been cut down to size by compelling new evidence,” explained Myllyvirta. “Our analysis shows that it was the clean tech boom, not the fracking rush, that slashed the bulk of carbon emissions from the US power sector.”
Amongst the report’s other notes is a reference to a recent analysis from Alliance Bernstein that suggests that renewables could make up to 10% of the US power supply by 2020, or 20% if they keep to their current rate of increase. Of course, whether these figures are achieved or not depends greatly on the state of the economy and subsidies through those years. We’ll have to wait and see.